Auctioneers speaking slower, proven flyers hovering lower, and healthy online advertising growth helped spark the week that was.

Did you hear about the leading auction site's new "Sell It Now" button?
It wasn't a very good week for eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY). After its fourth-quarter results came in on the low end of analyst guesstimates, the online auctioneer then shocked investors by projecting significantly slower growth for 2005. With revenues now pegged to grow by a little better than 30% and earnings growth expected to come in closer to 22%, shareholders began to question whether eBay was still the kind of company worth paying 60 to 70 times earnings for.

Has eBay outgrown its hypergrowth-stock roots? This past quarter, the company was the marketplace platform of choice, moving $9.8 billion worth of merchandise. But one couldn't expect explosive upticks to continue exponentially. While it continues to make headway overseas and with its PayPal service, its stateside transaction revenue had grown by just 24% this past quarter. No, eBay is not broken. It's still an amazing operation that accounted for 1.4 billion auction listings in 2004. That's many times more than its largest online auction-house rivals like Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) zShops, Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) Auctions, and even Rule Breakers stock pick (NASDAQ:OSTK) combined.

Slower steps going forward may not appease too many investors, but it means that the company is going to only get more popular globally. That does not mean that eBay is worth the lofty multiples it once had -- but it does mean that if the share price bleeding continues, you may eventually be able to click the "Buy It Now" button and finally scoop up shares of one of the best Internet companies at what a reasonable price.

LUV is in the air, only it's steaming up the windows
It doesn't seem fair. Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) announced its performance for all of 2004 -- now with 32 consecutive years of profitability -- yet the stock fell on the news. Sure, earnings dipped by 15% during the fourth quarter, despite a 9% uptick in revenues. But it's hard to beef up margins when fuel costs are high, no matter how well you hedge against it. Yet the company is making money, and that's far more than anyone can say for just about every single legacy carrier that's still flying.

The company keeps its costs in check with its fleet of matching Boeing (NYSE:BA) 737s, and its low overhead has allowed the company to stay in the black, even as its competition has little choice but to lose money when the perpetual price wars break out. So why is the stock hanging around the $14 mark these days? It hasn't traded above $20 in three years, and that means it's been in the teens for about as long as the Olsen twins have. Southwest has managed to survive -- if not thrive -- in a very ugly airline sector. Sooner or later, Wall Street is bound to show the stock what its ticket symbol is all about.

And last but certainly not least...
If good news came alphabetically, you may have been waiting awhile for Yahoo! to come around, but it would have been worth the wait, as the online bellwether produced yet another strong quarter. Even if you backed out gains stemming from the company's trimming away its stake in Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), the company still saw its earnings double to $0.36 a share last year.

The key driver? Online advertising. While the company has grown over the years from a popular traffic-directing portal to the ultimate destination -- complete with moves including its acquisition and its dating site, the most active one on the Internet -- 85% of its revenues still comes from pitching ads to its users. That's certainly not a bad place to be, given that sponsors are still just discovering the merits of a type of ad targeting that just isn't available through traditional forms of marketing.

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Aristotle Munarriz

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz thinks that LUV is a much better corporate ticker symbol than a diaper brand name. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.